Waiting for the train to DublinIerland 09-11-2005
‘Isn’t it a nice day’?, an Irish student asks me, when I extend my hand to introduce myself. Soaking wet and shivering with cold, I look at him, surprised. Such optimism. You know, before hand, that you can experience four seasons in one day in Ireland. But the sun does not feel like it today and spring seems far, far away.
Normally, my enthusiasm would survive some rain spells. But today I am rather in a bad mood. My shoes are soaking wet, the Dubliners on the streets seem to enjoy walking right through me and the city map keeps sending me in all the wrong directions. And as if that is not enough, the batteries of my cell phone are low and that it is not very handy on a day when you have to find people and sources for your items. Talk to people, write e-mails, call institutions (as far as that goes with a couple of low batteries) and drink as much coffee as possible.
It is getting dark early and it is about time that Joeri, Roanne and I leave for the direction of our hostess. She lives in Balbriggan, a small coastal town just above Dublin. It is actually quiet nice not to be in the centre of the city. To escape the buzz for a while and to have a look at life outside the city. It is wonderful to watch the cosy little town wake up the next morning. There are some spells of sunshine, sea gulls circle above my head en red-painted clouds pass slowly. I walk in the direction of the tiny station where the train waits that will take me to Dublin. And suddenly there lies the sea.
When I am staring at the wrinkleless blue water I am beginning to understand more and more why Oscar Wilde once said: ‘In Ireland a poem almost writes itself’. And he was not the only (word) artist who let himself be inspired by the sea, the wild rivers, the murmuring streams, the high cliffs and the stately castles that make up the Irish landscape.
While sitting in the train, it occurs to me that everyone is reading. And make no mistake; they are reading actual books and not the Irish version of the Metro. People seem to enjoy the peace and quietness and let themselves be taken into the fantasy world of the writer. For the first time, I feel at home in Ireland.
That there is something between this city and literature is confirmed once again when I stroll through town an hour later. Brendan Behan’s bank, Joyce’s statue, the Irish Writer’s Museum, Yeats’ Abbey Theatre: there is no way you can ignore them. Dublin and literature are entangled.
That same afternoon I decide to buy an Oscar Wilde novel. The Picture of Dorian Gray, the only novel he ever wrote. Immediately, I dive into the first pub I come across to read it quietly. ‘Isn’t it a nice day?’, the friendly barkeeper asks me when I enter the pub. I have heard that before, I think to myself. I look outside through the window. The sun is shining, a nice book is sitting in my bag waiting for me and a hot, steaming coffee stands on the bar. ‘Yes it is a nice day, definitely!’
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